SHOPKEEPERS and residents have raised concerns about Andover’s first games arcade coming to the town, with fears that it will increase crime.

Test Valley Borough Council has received 33 letters of objection about the planning application for the adult gaming centre in the ground floor of 74 High Street.

However, planning officers have recommended that it is granted permission when it comes to the Northern Area Planning Committee on Thursday.

The former optician’s is a Grade II Listed building and is currently empty.

Plans include fruit machines inside the building along with a window display.

Andover Town Council has objected alongside Specsavers and residents in Andover, Penton Mewsey, Charlton and Tidworth.

Specsavers has said that the noise and disturbance associated with games arcades will affect the hearing tests that it carries out while there are also concerns that the proposed use is out of character with the Conservation Area and will encourage gambling.

Other objections refer to the number of betting shops already in the town centre, with most pubs and the bingo hall already providing fruit machines, while some have concerns that gambling plays a role in crime and suicides.

And one letter states: “Location on a busy thoroughfare is a temptation to those who perhaps cannot afford to spend money in the mistaken hope of getting rich quick and would show Andover as a no hope town unable to provide worthwhile shopping supporting people and the economy.”

Another says: “Such gamblers have bankrupted businesses and there are even cases of murder as a result of these machines.”

A further letter states: “Many of the clientele appear to be jobless and they should not squander their limited funds they have in this manner.”

However, the Northern Area Planning Committee report has said that the proposed change of use is considered acceptable and does not result in harm to the vitality and viability of the town centre.